On Bengali Valentine's Day

Our English private tutor’s house was just opposite to our school gate. We would often see his wife hanging clothes from the balcony while we were running for our life to arrive at the prayer session just in time in converse and cotton saree balled up between our legs. There was an open drain just by the side of the gate whose cement cover was broken and nobody ever cared to put it back. We often had to become temporary gymnast in saree to cross that drain. Our witty and mischievous tutor once told us a story. That he would see girls jumping across that drain for every single school day of the year except one day – the day of Saraswati Pujo. That day every single girl would become the perpetual damsel in distress in saree and her high school boyfriend would help her cross that gaping hole like a chivalrous knight in the shining armour that he was. Every time I think of this day that story comes rushing back to my mind. I would close my eyes and I could see the balcony and the huge gate across the street, the broken cement slab, the garden trail leading up to the main building. And the place is bustling with teenagers everywhere. The girls are looking incandescent in colourful sarees borrowed from mother’s closet.  Their steps are more premeditated, more careful today. Mom would kill her if she ruined her saree. The boys are looking like warrior men. You don’t get to enter a girls’ school premises every other day. And who knew the dorky girl in jeans from math tuition looks like a diva in saree? Just wait till their eyes meet across the corridor. Artificial lighting is not required today. Everything is illuminated with smile, yet unadulterated hope of adolescence, and the promise of an everlasting love. Let's not let harsh reality dampen the mood today.

Wish everyone a very happy Saraswati Pujo.

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